Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Charles J Kickham - Famous Prisoner, Author and Fenian Leader

Author and Fenian leader. Charles J. Kickham was born on 9 May 1828, at Mullinahone in Co. Tipperary.

Kickham joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) or the Fenians, in 1860. He was a committed separatist. During his career as an activist, he contributed controversial political articles to a nationalist paper, the Irish People.

On 15 September 1865 the Dublin Police took possession of the Irish People headquarters at 12 Parliament Street and seized the entire contents of the office. The few members of the staff still on the premises were arrested and others were picked up on the street or in their homes.

Irish People documents revealed Kickham’s role in the Fenian conspiracy. On 11 November 1865 he was arrested. Nearly blind and almost completely deaf, Kickham was charged for writing ‘treasonous’ articles and for committing high treason. He was tried before Judge William Keogh and sentenced to fourteen years penal servitude.

He was sent to Mountjoy prison. On 10 February 1865 he was transferred to Pentonville Prison near London. During this time his health deteriorated because of poor prison diet. On 14 May 1866 he was transferred to Portland Prison and later to the invalid prison at Woking in Surrey, where he spent the remainder of his term. He was released in 1869 with his health severely impaired and returned to Mullinahone, Co. Tipperary.

More on Charles J Kickham

Does My Bum Look Big In This?

In the New York Times on September 9th 1894, the following article appeared. It focused on the vanity of female prisoners, including those at Woking Convict Invalid Prison.

See full article here.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A bleak mid-victorian prison??

I have no doubt that life was harsh at Woking Invalid Convict Prison. Yet, there are various descriptions of the surrounding countryside which make the place seem almost idyllic:

Florence Maybrick wrote:

... we drove through lovely woods; the scent of flowers was wafted by the breeze into what seemed to be a hearse that was bearing me on toward my living tomb [the prison]...

And a prison medical officer wrote the following description in late 1859 or early 1860:

The prison at Knapp Hill was built on the most approved plan, both as regards ventilation and sanitation, and also its general arrangements, but it was difficult to imagine that it was within thirty-six miles of London, for it was situated on a large moor covered with heath and a few stunted pines, about a mile and a half from Woking Cemetery, in an unused part of which I used to exercise a young setter. Snakes abounded, and frogs kept us awake at night by their croaking. A few blackcock still remained, and numbers of shaggy forest ponies were to be seen roaming about.

Sounds wonderful, don't you think?

Prison Gate

My boyfriend tells me that he much prefers discovering things about the prison building than prison life. So here's a picture of the gate to Woking Invalid Convict Prison just for him. Of course, this picture was taken after it became Inkerman Barracks. But it's the same gate that the prisoners would have been taken through, and the same bell tower they would have looked at every day while trudging round the exercise yard ...

And, in fact, I suspect the picture was taken just yards from our front door. The road the photographer is standing in looks suspiciously like ours with some grass to the left and what looks like a wall to the right. Woo hoo.

Prison Laundry

Laundry Workers at Woking Invalid Convict Prison

Woking Invalid Convict Prison was run by the prisoners in that it was they who were put to work cooking, cleaning, gardening, mending and of course washing.

In Philip Priestly's Victorian Prison Lives, the laundry is described as the least pleasant of all the jobs. It involved lots of physical labour: washing, scrubbing, wringing, sorting and folding thousands of clothes, flannels and sheets every week. These would have included articles from the infirmary, which had come into contact with 'all manner of skin diseases and other disgusting afflictions'.

In Florence Maybrick's book describing her time at Woking Invald Convict Prison we discover that:

Each cell was provided with a nail on which, during the day, the prisoner could hang a wet towel, and, during the night, her clothes. Those who worked in the laundry came in with wet clothing every evening, which, as no change is allowed, must be either dried at night or put on wet the next morning.

It must have been unbearably cold in the winter to put damp clothes on every morning. Brrrr.

I found a great little source of information on women in prison which includes this extract from a book called Prison Characters Drawn from Life by a Prison Matron. The book, which was written in 1866, has this to say about the laundry:

The women are disputatious......and the soap question is always in the ascendant in the 'washing house'. The prisoners are always on the watch for stray pieces of soap - which is handy for smoothing the hair, for instance - and quick is the eye to detect an error in a contemporary who, in her absence of mind, places her soap by her tub-side instead of in her pocket, and quick are the fingers to confiscate it accordingly. Quarrels about soap are constantly recurring in the laundry; there is no honour among soap thieves; women will rob their dearest pals of the two or three o'clock soaps, and maintain 'til the last, and with all the power at their command, their innocence of defalcation.

Prison Houses

There are three rows of houses (as marked on the 1871 Ordnance Survey map above) that used to cater for the prison staff. I believe they were built at different stages of Woking Invalid Convict Prison's development.

The first stretch (marked in red) is our little stretch of Raglan Road.

The second row of houses (marked in blue) is also Raglan Road. These houses look similar to ours but they are larger and have entrances front and back. There used to be a row of these houses on both sides of the road. Now only the one side remains. The black and white image clearly shows houses on both sides of the road. It looks like such a grand road.

The third row of houses (marked in green) is furthest away from the prison and can be found on Victoria Road. These are really pretty little cottages, but look different from those on Raglan Road. If I'm honest, I don't know if these are original or if they've been rebuilt, but they certainly appear on the old map.

Two surprising discoveries

The first surprise is that our two bedroom house was originally a three bedroom house.

We had always assumed the bathroom and kitchen, both at the back of the house, were added later. But they weren't. They were part of the original house. Obviously the third bedroom is now the bathroom.

So, if there was a third bedroom upstairs, there must have been something below it. But what?

We know there used to be a pantry, a coal cellar and a toilet in that space. But we thought these were open to the elements. Obviously not!

(It would appear from the plans that you had to walk through the central bedroom to get to the master bedroom!!)

The second discovery is that our little stretch of Raglan Road used to have ten houses and now only has nine. One fell off. What a shame.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Malingerers and 'The Battery'

I stumbled across this vivid and amusing account of the dreaded battery. It was written by a young medical officer visiting Woking Invalid Convict Prison:

Although it occurred some months after I had left the service, and while I was on a visit to my cousin ... who succeeded me in the office of Assistant Surgeon, the following incident may be worth recording. By the kind permission of the Governor I was allowed to accompany my cousin round the wards, and was asked to see a man who was said to have paralysis of both legs. I thought with the others he was malingering, and the usual remedies having failed, it was decided to use galvanism.

The batteries were out of order, but by uniting two, we got a fairly good current. While arranging the batteries, it was mentioned audibly that a mild current would be used at first and the strength increased daily.

The batteries were places on a table on one side of the bed and Mr. E. S. Blaker, standing on the other, applied one pole to the hip, and asked me to apply the other to the foot. Never was a more miraculous cure. The man jumped up, said : "I'm damned if I can stand this," and rushed across the ward, dragging the batteries off the table, upsetting the sulphuric acid, and destroying two sets of bedding and the floor for several feet.


Notorious or not? John Campbell, Staff Surgeon at Woking Invalid Convict Prison

John Campbell spent thirty years as a medical officer in the English Convict Service. Many of those years were spent on the prison hulks (see image above), travelling between the UK and Australia.

Later on in his life, he worked at Woking Invalid Convict Prison. Reports vary on what type of character John Campbell was. I imagine it would have been very hard to remain sympathetic to prisoners after 30 years in the industry!!

The Australian Autobiographical Narratives suggests he was a humanitarian 'advocating humanity but not mistaken sympathy ...' In addition, 'Campbell recommends order, cleanliness and regularity as a basis for prison discipline.'

However, in a book entitled Victorian Prison Lives by Philip Priestley we discover a less humanitarian attitude towards the prisoners:

On a more personal level, says Dr Campbell, 'it was my invariable practice, in prescribing for the patients, to treat them with as much consideration as if they had been delicate ladies - at the same time enjoining a kindly treatment on the part of the attendants.'

One of the patients on the receiving end of this 'consideration', during the Campbell reign at Woking hospital prison, was George Bidwell: 'the doctor wound up the interview with the clincher, in his high squeaking tones: "Well, my man, you know you were sent here to die, so you must not make any trouble, for there is nothing I can do for you."

This was his stereotyped reply, no matter what the case of the nature of the disease, which had usually been aggravated or brought on by the hard work with insufficient food.' His summary of the doctor's long career is in similar vein. 'Dr Campbell,' he writes, 'resigned from the service and retired to private life with a pension and the inexpressible hatred and contempt of all prisoners who ever had the misfortune to come under his treatment.'

Like many prison doctors of the age, Campbell regularly used the battery on convicts, stating that galvanism was not brought into play until all other remedies had failed:

Patients suffering from the real disease gladly submit to this or any other remedy likely to benefit them; but malingerers show a great deal of reugnance to it.' Victorian Prison Lives

Towards the end of his career, John Campbell wrote a book entitled: THIRTY YEARS' SERVICE OF A MEDICAL OFFICER IN THE ENGLISH CONVICT SERVICE (first published in 1884). The book describes Campbell's own experiences and views on the treatment of prisoners. He also makes suggestions for the future. Chapters include The Convict Ship; Dartmoor Convict Prison; Woolwich, the Convict Hulks; Woking Invalid Prison; Lunatic and Imbecile Convicts, etc.

Woking Invalid Convict Prison - Quarterly Returns

Every prisoner that came to Woking Invalid Convict Prison was registered in the Prison Register where the following details were taken:
  • Prison Register Number
  • Name
  • Age
  • Crime
  • Place of Conviction
  • Date of Conviction
  • Sentence in Years
  • Health
  • Behaviour
Every quarter, these Prison Registers were sent off somewhere (not sure where) where they were collated with Prison Registers from all the other prisons. These were known as Quarterly Returns and were compiled together alphabetically in big fat leather bound books called Convict Prisons Attested Lists.

The first image below shows one of these Attested Lists. It's difficult to see from this image because it's in poor condition, but it has a really pretty, colourful floral pattern on the cover.

The second image shows one of the pages from Woking's Prison Register. As you can see, each Prison Register was signed and dated at the end of each quarter by the head warden and prison doctor.

I love browsing through these Quarterly Returns whenever I go to the National Archives. It's amazing what those naughty Victorians got up to. The following is a cross section of some of the entries in the prison register for Woking Invalid Convict Prison in 1871:

2438 ... William Aylsby .. age 63 ... Buggery ... convicted in York ... 8/12/64 ... 20 years ... Infirm ... V good behaviour

2265 ... Robert Wight ... age 56 ... Forging Power of Attorney ... convicted in Gloucester ... 6/8/64 ... 10 years ... Infirm

3034 ... John Cornish ... age 70 ... Stealing a lamb ... convicted in Exeter ... 8/5/66 ... 7 years ... Rather delicate

3179 ... Joseph Rowley ... age 25 ... Bestiality ... convicted in Shrewsbury ... 17/3/64 ... 10 years ... Rather delicate

3774 ... John W Teasdale ... age ?? ... Carnally knowing a child ... convicted in Newcastle ... 14/7/68 ... 10 years ... Rather delicate (Notice how a paedophile gets ten years less than someone committing a homosexual act. I'm guessing that the 'abominable crime' mentioned later is also homosexuality.)

4226 ... James Kavannagh ... age 30 ... Coming to the knowledge of an intended mutiny in the army in aid of the Fenian conspiracy and not giving notice to his commanding officer ... convicted in Dublin ... 26/1/67 ... 7 years ... rather delicate ... v. good behaviour

4260 ... Thomas Campbell ... age 38 ... An abominable crime ... convicted in York ... 29/1/69 ... 20 years ... rather delicate ... good behaviour (Blimey, he couldn't even bring himself to say the word)

4299 ... Charles Harris ... age 17 ... Striking a superior officer ... convicted in Bermista (Bermuda?) ... 3/5/70 ... 5 years ... (Hot headed 17 year olds ... nothing's changed there then!)

4356 ... Hector Gillies ... age 41 ... Inciting a person to cast away a certain Brit ship on the high seas ... convicted in C C Ct ... 19/9/70 ... 5 years ... rather delicate (Piracy? Or sabotage?)

4458 ... James Fowkes ... age 52 ... Using instrument to procure (word abortion crossed out and replaced with:) miscarriage ... convicted in Warwick ... 8/7/69 ... 10 years ... Rather delicate ... V good behaviour

Another one that stands out in my memory is a Samual Wadsworth aged 53 from Leeds who put a stone on a railway track with the intent to obstruct a train.

The Female Prison Chapel - Plans and Sketches

It's important to point out that the female and male prisons were quite separate. The image below shows where the female prison (marked F) was situated in relation to the male prison (marked M). The two prisons were built several years apart.

A recent visit to the National Archives threw up some floor plans and sketches of the female prison chapel which provide us with a clear idea of what it might have looked like. On the floor plan below you will notice that the one chapel is actually two chapels (Roman Catholic and Protestant) sitting side by side under the same roof.

The next plan shows the West and East elevations, showing the two distinct designs for Protestant and Catholic.

The final plan shows how I think the Chapel will have looked from behind. I assume there were two separate entrances for the prisoners and one central entrance for the clergy ...

Remember, all prisoners were attend chapel every morning, regardless of their faith.
It's also worth pointing out that the female chapel was a stand alone building whereas the male chapel, we believe, was attached to the prison itself. You may have noticed references to 'detention barracks' or 'Inkerman' on the plans. This is because the army will have used the original Victorian plans to adapt the prison into barracks in the late 19th century. What else becomes clear from the sketches is that the overall look of the female prison differed greatly from the ominous foreboding look of the male prison.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Woking Prison - a different view

This is Woking Invalid Convict Men's Prison from behind and we think the bit that juts out is the chapel. So pretty.

Thomas Bourke - Fenian at Woking

In the 1860's Woking Convict Invalid Prison housed many Irish Fenians (a term used since the late 1850s for Irish nationalists who opposed British rule in Ireland) including Thomas Francis Bourke. Thomas was sentenced to death for his role in the uprising (high treason) though this sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

The Fenians were members of a movement in Ireland that wanted independence from British rule. Some people in Ireland believed the British government had refused to help the Irish out during the potato famine because they'd hoped it would solve the Irish 'problem' i.e. kill them off. The only hope for Ireland, the Irish believed, was complete separation from the UK. And if that meant fighting the British, then so be it.

Their war on the British caused a wave of anti-Irish feeling throughout the UK, which didn't bode well for the Fenians when they were finally caught and imprisoned. I suspect they were treated more harshly than other prisoners ...

The following extract describes Bourke's experience at Woking Convict Invalid Prison:

On 27 February 1868, having completed his probation, Burke was transferred to Working Convict Prison in Surrey. This was considered to be a hospital prison for both the physically and mentally ill. For an unknown reason he was moved back to Millbank on 20 April 1868; he spent only two weeks there, returning to work.In Woking Burke's diet consisted of bread and tea for breakfast. He was allowed 20 ozs of bread, 1/4 ozs of tea, 4 ozs of milk and 11/2 ozs of sugar daily. His dinner was soup, potatoes (8 ozs) and bread. Prisoners were permitted 10 ozs of meat each day, but appear not to have always got it; it may have been used to make the soup. The supper was bread and tea.

Each prisoner on punishment was granted a daily concession of 8 ozs of bread, 1/4 ozs of tea, 11/2 ozs of sugar and 4 ozs of milk. After the public, which followed the exposure of the treatment of O'Donovan Rossa while in prison, the MP for Cork county secured the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry into prison conditions. Headed by the Earl of Devon, this met in the summer of 1870. Burke was one of those granted an interview. He wrote also at length to the Commission on the sufferings of his deranged friend and fellow-Fenian in Woking, Ricard US. Burke - no relation.

He had been only three times to exercise... I believe, the only times he has been out of bed since 23 July. I am also told ... that for the past thirteen days he has taken little or not food. This treatment is well calculated, if not intended, to provoke him to some desperate act of violence... from my experience of the officials of this prison I feel confident they would be but too anxious to avail themselves of any colourable pretext to lay violent hands upon my poor friend, by laying open his head with their staffs, or cutting him down with their sabres; for the criminal imbeciles,. confined in this prison, have not an immunity from this inhuman and brutal treatment; and from the course adopted by the officials of this prison towards my fellow prisoners within twenty-four hours after they had submitted their evidence to the Commissioners, that the submitting of evidence ... by any prisoner should not prejudice the future treatment of that prisoner while in prison... I have every reason to believe that my poor friend will be subjected to ... all the worst effects of penal discipline, and the treatment which has already deprived him of reason will be persistently and steadily followed up until it deprives him of life.

Burke's own prison career was coming to an end. As The Tipperary Fenian Denis Dowling Mulcahy wrote his father: Between half-past twelve and one o'clock, Thursday, the 22nd December 1870, the Governor, Captain Bramly, communicated to me, Dr. Power, Colonel Burke, and Mr. Dillon, that he had instructions to ask us if we would accept our release on condition of leaving the country, never again to return to it, or the alternative of remaining in penal servitude to finish our sentences.

According to the New York Times, however, a Thomas F Burke was released from prison in March 1869 following a petition handed in to Queen Victoria.

Who knows ...

A big thank you to Kieran Maxwell who emailed me with the following information: I can confirm that the Burke you refer to was the Burke that was released by the Queen as part of a general amnesty for the fenian prisoners.

Inmates 1870s

On this BBC website, I found the following snippet:

Janice Jelley in Billericay has discovered that two members of her family ended up in the Woking Invalid Prison in the 1870’s after being convicted of starving one of their wives to death.

Blimey! I wonder why they did that.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Newspaper clippings

24 Apr 1886 - CONVICT ESTABLISHMENT ... Last week nearly a hundred convicts arrived at this prison [Parkhurst], and more are coming nearly every day. It is stated that over a dozen of the officials at Pentonville have been ordered to join here, where duty is now very heavy. It is said that the large prison at Woking is to be devoted to the reception of lunatic criminals after the manner of Broadmoor, hence the influx of prisoners to Parkhurst. (IW County Press) - source: http://members.lycos.co.uk/s0uthbury/parkhurstsnippets.htm

It sounds as though prisoners were being shifted between prisons left right and centre during the late 1800s.

6 Feb 1915 - DEATH ... has occured of Mrs Mary Ann PRICE, aged 84, who had to her credit over 34 years efficient service in H.M. Female prisons. She joined the prison at Millbank as Assistant Matron in 1862 and was subsequently transferred to Parkhurst when the establishment was used for women. She afterwards went to Woking when the women prisoners were transferred from Parkhurst to that place. Before her retirement in 1896 she had attained the position of Chief Matron ... (IW County Press) - source: http://members.lycos.co.uk/s0uthbury/parkhurstsnippets.htm

Woking Invalid Convict Prison - A Thieve's Palace

The following was written by a gentleman called Chas Cook who visited a number of prisons in the late 1800s:

Add to the above that I have visited all our convict
prisons and all our London prisons, from gloomy
Newgate, with its many old and historic reminiscences,
and through whose precincts a Jack Sheppard and a
Jonathan Wild have wended their way, to the more
modern and well-ventilated and comfortably warmed Pen-
tonville, containing some eleven hundred prisoners ; from
Dartmoor, bleak and barren, where the Claimant served
nearly seven years, to Portsmouth, where he resided in an
extra large cell, and where also Benson, of the 'Turf Frauds '
notoriety, whiled away his time mending stockings in the
' Doctor's party ' ; from Woking, truly called the ' Thieves'
Palace,' where I have seen the recreation room with its
draughts, dominoes, sofas, and paintings on the wall (not
to mention an aviary) ...

An AVIARY?? In a prison?? No wonder they shut it down so quickly!!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Famous inmate: Florence Maybrick

Florence Maybrick was an American woman who was tried and sentenced to be hanged in August 1889 for murdering her British husband. This was later commuted to life imprisonment.

There's an interesting twist to the story because a little while after Florence was imprisoned, the editor of the Pall Mall Gazette (W T Stead) received a letter of confession from a dying man in South Africa. The man claimed to have had a grudge against Mrs Maybrick and set her up by poisoning her husband with arsenic.

Of course, Florence Maybrick was found guilty of the offence. It didn't help that the judge was a notorious misogynist whose remarks about Mrs Maybrick's adultery played no small part in her conviction.

What wasn't brought to the attention of the jury, however, was that James Maybrick (almost twice the age of Florence) was a debauched philanderer with several illegitimate children. He was also habitual drug user. His drug of choice? Arsenic.

There was a huge outcry when Florence was found guilty ... and a great deal of pressure from America for Florence's immediate release.

However, even though the case against Florence was deemed unsafe, she spent 14 years in prison. Florence spent a significant part of her sentence at Woking Invalid Convict Prison and wrote an incredible account of her experiences shortly after her release in 1904. The following is an 11,000 word extract from her book: Mrs. Maybrick's Own Story, MY FIFTEEN LOST YEARS (Google Books). It's an excellent account of life in Woking Invalid Convict Prison, covering everything from food, punishment, manual labour, sickness and more:

In Solitary Confinement
Removal to Woking Prison

ON the morning of the 29th of August
I was hastily awakened by a female
warder, who said that orders had come
down from the Home Office for my removal
that day to a convict prison.
When I left, the governor was standing
at the gate, and, with a kindliness of voice
which I deeply appreciated, told me to be
brave and good.
A crowd was in waiting at the station.
I was roughly hustled through it into a
third-class carriage.
The only ray of light that penetrated
those dark hours of my journey came from
an American woman. God bless her,
whoever she is or wherever she is! At
every station that the train stopped she got
out and came to the carriage door and
spoke words of sympathy and comfort.
She was the first of my countrywomen to
voice to me the protest that swelled into
greater volume as the years rolled by.
As the train drew up at Woking station a
crowd assembled ... read more

More history ...

The following extract was taken from The Knaphillian and gives some intersting background to the prison:

In 1858 the Home Office bought just over 64 acres of land from the London Necropolis Company in order to build a special prison for disabled prisoners in Knaphill. Known as the ‘Woking Invalid Convict Prison’ it was the first prison to be specifically for disabled prisoners – not just for those physically ill, but also those suffering from mental illness.

The main prison building was designed by Sir Joshua Jebb and Arthur Blomfield (sometimes mis-spelled as ‘Bloomfield’ as in Bloomfield Close). It consisted of two large wings on either side of a large central tower. The west wing was for the chronically sick and insane, whilst the east wing was for some of the more able-bodied prisoners.

The whole site was surrounded by a wall, eighteen feet high, the bricks of which can occasionally still be found on the escarpment down towards Robin Hood Road.

Work began on the building in 1858 with prisoners and officers brought in from Lewes, Carisbrooke and Dartmoor to help with the construction.

The north-east wing was opened on the 28th April 1859, although the official opening of the whole site was not until the 22nd March 1860 when three-hundred prisoners were transferred from the already cramped and inadequate Lewes Prison in Sussex.

The average number of prisoners at Knaphill was 613.

In 1867 work began on the second prison at Knaphill – this time for female convicts, and once again some of the more able-bodied men from the male prison were employed as cheap labour.

The new prison opened on the 5th May 1869 when 100 were transferred here from Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of Wight.

Many of the women worked in the prison kitchens or laundry, whilst a number were employed as Tailoresses, Needlewomen or Knitters. Woking Prison was also well-known for its Mosaics Department where the women could earn 1s2d a day breaking up refuse marble to be laid as mosaic floors. Some were exhibited at the ‘International Exhibition of Fine Arts and Industry’ at the Royal Albert Hall in 1872, and it is said that part of the floor of St Paul's Cathedral and the ‘South Kensington Museums’ were produced at this time. St John’s Church also exhibits some of the work

In 1886 it was decided to close the prisons at Woking over a ten year period, and in 1888 most of the male prisoners were transferred. The invalid prison finally closed on the 21st March 1889 and in November the Home Office transferred the site to the War Department.

In 1891 they bought an extra 20 acres adjoining the site from the Necropolis Company for £5,600, to be used as part of the parade ground.

The female prison continued to be used until October 1895 when it too was closed and the last of the women transferred to Holloway. During the First World War the female prison was used as a military hospital, whilst the male section housed various units, including many troops from all over the Empire.

After the Second World War the barracks became the base for the Royal Military Police who finally vacated the site in 1965 when they moved down to Chichester (although part of the site was retained as a clothing store)

The site then became available for housing with Woking Borough Council and The Guinness Trust developing part of the estate in the early 1970s – followed by more private houses in the 1980s and 90s – although it is perhaps the restoration of the original prison officers quarters in Wellington Terrace and Raglan Road that are the most distinctive part of the area.

Ordnance Survey Map 1870

This Ordnance Survey Map of Woking Invalid Convict Prison, Knaphill from 1870 clearly shows that our house (marked in red) was almost smack bang wallop in the centre of the prison complex.

Most images you see of the prison show the big block south-east of our house. We're not sure what the big block north-west of our house would have been.

I imagine there would have been a lot of curtain twitching going on during the prison's heyday watching all manner of convicts coming and going ;-)